On Sunday the 20th I experienced an extremely humbling moment. I had spent the day with mum at the Gleneagles hotel enjoying afternoon tea. Mum had asked if I would like to go and having never been I felt it was an experience I shouldn’t turn down. I would suggest that it is not my usual haunt, however the food was fantastic and the service impeccable. I could not fault the afternoon. Whilst it was a great afternoon I don’t think it will be a regular event in my diary, more a treat.
Myself and mum don’t often get the chance to go and do things together and the afternoon out to Gleneagles was a welcome one. You see I think we all take life for granted. We all too often fail to realise that it could all end in the blink of an eye. Whilst I would hope that everyone lived long and prosperous lives it unfortunately doesn’t always work out like that. For a huge part of my life I did just that. I took life for granted. I never truly appreciated what I had and how quickly it could all be lost.
When we returned home from Gleneagles I popped onto Facebook for my usual flick through. I very quickly stumbled upon a post about a little 4 year old girl – Jessica Whelan, who had just passed away that morning from cancer. I almost feel ashamed to say that I had never heard about Jessica who had been battling with cancer since September 2015. I noticed an image of Jessica taken by her dad, writhing in pain because of her cancer. No one should ever have to fight with cancer, let alone a little girl who never had the opportunity to truly experience life. Cancer is cruel. I don’t think I have ever believed it to be so true.
It brought the day I had had with mum right into context. I realised just how lucky I am that I still have my mum around and that I still get to enjoy time with her. Not just mum but all of my family members and friends who have battled with this disease.
I get frustrated with myself every now and then. When I realise that I am slipping back into the comfort of pretending that we have endless time to enjoy life and experience the world. There are so many things to do, so many places to see and yet we allow ourselves to become complacent and we constantly put our dreams on hold for one reason or another. We put things off until another day. I know that I have been more guilty of this than anyone. But when cancer came calling so close to home it gave me the wake up call I needed. Our time is limited and we must make the most of it. We all have differing dreams and aspirations, we may not all agree to experience the same things, but what I think we should all agree upon is that life is short. It can end quicker than we appreciate and we must make the most of the time that we have and live lives that end with no regrets.
For a long time travelling was something which I did, but I wasn’t overly bothered about. As a kid I never travelled outside of the UK until I was about 12 when I went to France for the first time. It wasn’t because my parents didn’t want to take us abroad they just couldn’t afford it at the time. I’m not complaining though, I had so many opportunities through my childhood that helped turn me into the person I am today and I am extremely grateful for that. But going to France and experiencing another culture was incredible. I think I realised then how big the world was and how much places there were to visit and experience. I am extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to visit Japan and the USA and to travel around Europe. I am desperate to get my next adventure planned to visit somewhere new have a new experience. New York and other cities in the US are pretty high on my list of places to visit as well Australia and New Zealand, Africa, Nepal and the list goes on and on! Of course there are also so many more places in Scotland and the UK that I would like to visit and experience and I will get the opportunity in time. For me, an experience is worth a thousand possessions.
“Life has no limitations except the ones you make” – Les Brown
This has been a fantastic experience so far. I have learned a huge amount and spoken to so many people about why we need to do research and why we need to make sure that the funding exits for the research to happen. I started this whole thing because I wanted to help people who are suffering from cancer and prevent others from ever having to experience this disease. But what I am realising, is that it is teaching me that I must make the most of the life that I have been given and take every experience and opportunity that are presented to me. We must measure our lives by experiences and not by time alone.
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